Category Archives: Ramblings

Ah…Grüner Veltliner how I have missed you

Summer is here….or at least it feels like it. Whites anyone? What is your favorite?
My favorites list change form time to time, and I was reminded of how much I like a particular white.

I was teaching a class today via Karmoxie Consulting – and used Grüner Veltliner as an example of media gone wrong.

Luckily it is really starting to surge and there are a lot of options in our state stores in Pennsylvania now.

Two years ago my husband and I met with winemakers in California who are now producing this Austrian/Czech area wine.

We have used it in our wine classes, and even those who dont take to whites have GUSHed over how much they liked it.
And not because they were tipsy – but because it has a lot going for it.

It is a very versatile white, can be dry or a touch sweet depending on who makes it, kind of similar to chardonnay, but a bit different fruit flavors, with a touch of spice, minimal soil gives it a minerality like Riesling….and did you know?

Many refer to it as the most versatile food wine in the world!

Anyway – let’s get Grüüvy, let’s drink some white, and let’s start talking a lot more about wine.
Like the warm weather that has returned to Pittsburgh….and my absence of blogging….it’s been too long.

BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh

BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh are numerous! Bring Your Own Bottle to the following restaurants….why pay outrageous mark-ups?  Help us to keep this list up to date – have a favorite BYOB in your city? Let us know and we will add it to the list…

BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Avenue B
Legends North Shore
Bona Terra
Bite Bistro
Union Grill   
Elements Contemporary

Lin’s Asian Fusion
Chaya Japanese
Cambod-Ican Kitchen
Spice Island Tea House
Asian Garden

River Moon Cafe
The Cozy Cafe
Cafe io
Kayla’s Cafe
Crusted Duck Charcuterie

Ka Mei
My Lyng
China Star
Wai Wai
Tasty Chinese Restaurant


Abay Ethiopan Cuisine

Cafe du Juor

Greek/ Mediterranean
The Mediterranean Grill
Daphne Cafe
Kabob G Grill
Royal Carribbean

Joza Corner Hungarian
Cafe Roma
Claudio’s Pizzeria & Ristorante
Mineo’s Pizza House

Tamarind Flavor of India
Taste of India
Peoples Restaurant
Tandoor Indian Grill

La Tavola
Piccolo Forno
Sarafino’s Pasta and Pizza
II Burloni La PizzaE Cucina
City Oven
Mateo’s Pasta & Panino
Pizzutti’s Restaurant
Mia Madre Trattoria
Cafe Davio
II Pizzaiolo
Girasole Restaurant
Pino’s Contemporary Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar

Green Pepper

Latin American
Aji Picante
Chicken Latino
La Feria

Fajita Grill
Los Cabos Socal Mex Food

Middle Eastern
Ali Baba Restaurant

Kous Kous Cafe


Penn Ave Fish Co

Nikki’s Thai Kitchen
The Green Mango
Pusadee’s Garden    
Thai Me Up
Smiling Banana Leaf
Thai Cuisine
Thai Suan Thip
Thai Gourmet
Little Bangkok in the Strip
Thai Spoon

Vegan/Raw Food
Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe

Tram’s Kitchen
Pho Minh
Pho Van

Sphinx Cafe
Games N’ At

Friday night in BWI (Baltimore Airport) – Vino Volo

Just rolling off of a three day teach of Web Design with CSS here in Rockville, Maryland.

I find myself at Vino Volo. A chain of airport wine bars.
I decide to order the Gerwurztraminer to start because when I asked if it was dry, the waiter said “Yes”. I was surprised, I cant really find dry Gerwurz, but it’s a nice surprise when I do. Something about my brain thinking, “I smell sweet”  – when in reality it just smells Gerwurztraminer – and the result is a nice bone dry crisp sensation to mess with my head.

I order, then ask if my things would be safe while I go to the restroom. I believe them when they say it will, in this artificial outdoor patio – it’s not bad, it is an airport afterall. I like the plants, at least they are real.

After washing my hands in the bathroom, I am heading back and my pinky feels like it is feeling the air for the first time in a while. Crap – my ring.  I head back to the bathroom, and actually root around in the garbage.  You must understand, I want this ring.  I got it while touring Western Australia wine regions, in St Margaret River valley with my friend Trina. It is silver and has butterflies and grape leaves on it.

My rooting doesn’t help. I only find discarded dental floss and paper towels.

I wash my hands again, and just hope it is at the hotel, or with my luggage. I return to find my Gewurztraminer and small greens salad.

I like their offerings of small plates here. The salad has a nice variety of greens, goat cheese, cranberries. Better than airport fast food, but…not exactly stunning. I take a sip of the Gerwurtz to ease my pain.

Crap. I am not consoled. This is not a dry G. It is not bad, it is just like nectar of the gods. Its mango and pears, and rich honey – with spice. Double damn. My ring and not the wine I expected. Two disappointments in a short amount of time.

I tell the waiter when he returns and explain this is not dry. He explains that it is “fruit forward” not realizing I have been around the block. Come on servers, can you please learn a little bit more and try not to make shit up? So a bit of a ding to Vino Volo for not training your staff. (by the way – I will be training the staff for a restaurant in Pittsburgh soon – very stoked and will update you on this)

Although I am moody, I am not a bitch, so I just explain to the guy that its pretty rare to find a dry G while out and about and I should have realized. He offers to refund my money but I think to myself, I should have taken a bigger gulp. I tell him nevermind,
it is an okay wine just not what I has asked for.   (Plus its my favorite number – $11)

Called hotel. Hopefully they will call me tomorrow with my ring. (hoping it is in my bag)

Distracted by woman behind me speaking a mixture of Spanish and English. Loudly. I find myself trying to practice my Spanish by listening in. Crap. Headphones. Girl Talk. Ozzy and Jay-Z…..nice.

Okay – a few minutes later and I’m much better. Wine and tunes.

I ordered the flight of reds.

The Chilean wine has a great nose. Here is my take: berries, chocolate, green pepper.
I take it in before looking…it IS a Cab Franc!, along with Carmenere.
Very tasty.  Oveja Negra…Maule Valley 2010 $21  Hmmm…prices have risen.
Really like, but price to excitement ratio is a bit off for me

The Spanish wine is not quite as aromatic, but still nice. Cherries and berries. Nice and DRY. I guess tempranillo and look – yippee! But a touch of Cabernet makes this one a bit more approachable for me. Soft oak, just a touch. Really well rounded.
Bodegas Victorianas, Tempranillo, Santana 2009 – $19
Would totally buy this, if I were allowed to bring wine into PA.

Liking the tacos side dish they have with this. I miss my husband. He is a chef. His favorite dish is tacos.

Okay – Im guessing the Argentinian wine is Malbec based on what they have done so far.  I peek, it is. I’m a cheater sometimes. But not at Words With Friends. I swear Joe and Amanda!!! But man, the aroma is throwing me off. It reminds me of the pool when I was younger. Not super strong chlorine, but a slight whiff of it. WTF is that? I swirl and jam my nose in there. Concrete. Okay – the pool in my town, I recall the concrete – have a scar on my knee from jumping out and away from the local pervert. Let’s call this “chalky” and sound a bit more like a wine professional.

Luckily a swig of this does NOT remind me of being in a pool. Very very plummy as I’d expect from a Malbec, with nice oak, not harsh. With the tacos the fruit is SUPER nice.
Argentina,  Bodega San Polo, Malbec, Piuquenes, 2010 $23 I pass back again the Spanish Tempranillo has turned carmel-ly as I finish off my taco. YUMMY.  The Argentina wine doesn’t quite go with the creamy coleslaw, but hey it okay.

What is this? I think, I think i have a smile on my face!
Thank you wine! You and Girl Talk have improved my mood.

Thank you loud yapping Spanish speaking girl behind me, for inspiring the World Value Reds from Spain, Argentina, and Chile. Not a bad deal for $7.

Chile wins on aroma,  Spain wins on finish!

They have a flourless chocolate cake. Hmm? I ask if they have a Port. No, but a French “port-style”. I guess I have to since I’m finally writing a review…




Aroma? Not much. Swirl. Um…like a fresh first aid kit. Yikes!

But like many dessert wines, the aroma has nothing to do with the the sugary sweetness which coats my tongue, much better than licking swabs. A bit drying though.
France, M. Chapoutier, Grenache, Banyuls, 2009

Ooooh. some Hoover? Im either getting drunk or just everything is coming together.

Lovely lovely flourless chocolate cake – and that sauce, a nice soury sweet raspberry sauce. Man, this sweety Grenache just totally sets it all off.

Im thinking of our V-Day dinner and dessert choices. YUM.



Buying Wine Guide – Trust Your Instincts

A friend forwarded me a link to an NPR Marketplace article on buying wine, and how points ratings do not really matter. Some scientific evidence on things I have been trying to promote for years. That it doesnt matter what the experts say – its what YOU like.

NPR’s Marketplace talking about Wine Ratings, and studies to show they dont mean anything

A couple of points from the story:

– In blind tastings, expensive wines scored lower than expensive

– Only 1 in 10 expert wine tasters rated the same wine with the same points score

One reporters guide to buying wine…Choose the one with the most expensive label, but under $15.
Eh, maybe not the best advice, I have had some fancy labels where the wine sucked.

BUT…again…what really matters is what you think!


Please leave an account of what wines you like, inexpensive or not!

Wine makes the holidays better!

Hi everyone, we have entered the time of year when the hours accelerate and there is hardly time to get everything done!

To take some stress away, I have two things to share with you.

1.  Getting cranky gave me the idea to offer a coupon in our store.

What made me cranky?

The holiday season started in SEPTEMBER this year.
I enjoy the time with friends and family, but Christmas music before Halloween – I thought the only store allowed to display Christmas decorations early was Joanne Fabrics?

If you haven’t already found a gift for that wine lover of yours. Use coupon code BAHHUMBUG at checkout now through December 15th.

This will give you 10% off your order of $50 or more.
Since I am not a big corporation and believe I already offer the lowest prices, all that I ask in return is that you let me know how the gift goes over.
That is not even a requirement, just a request.

2.  Turning to a more positive side, I do enjoy the chill in the air, relaxing with friends, and enjoying some mulled wine…

What are your favorite holiday traditions involving wine? Please share in the comments below, and I will choose a winner at random on
December 31st to win a $50 gift certificate to use at a Grape Thoughts event or in the store.

Seriously? NYC knows no Beaujolais?

So, I was walking back to my hotel – the Best Western Seaport Inn downtown.
How lucky am I to have THREE wine bars on this little street?

Not lucky enough. NONE of them even knew what a Beaujolais Nouveau is, or that last night
was Beaujolais Day.

I will just have to get my fix when I get back to Pittsburgh.

Or…at lunchtime. 🙂